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Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley


Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Another type of remediation occurs when you translate text into either a single image or a series of images (a video or slideshow). These two types of remediations fundamentally involve the same process—translating text into visuals.

There are no strict guidelines by which this translation must be done. However, there are some large-scale suggestions or methods by which you can attempt to symbolically capture in visuals the messages and main ideas promoted in your original text. Moreover, the creation of a visual remediation—much in the same manner as the creation of a text remediation—involves an understanding of rhetorical stance and rhetorical strategies.

Obviously, in any type of remediation, you, as a composer, must pay attention to purpose and audience. Pictures and videos are mediums which are less exclusive in their target audiences than text-based mediums (after all, you need not be able to read in order to comprehend a visual image). At the same time, you must be cognizant, as in text-to-text remediations, of the purpose of the original text and consider how best to capture that purpose in your remediation.

Symbolically Capturing a Message

The purpose of a text-to-visual remediation is to convey the main ideas of the text with the use of visual images.

The Road Not Taken from Andrew Callaghan on Vimeo.

For example, if one wants to remediate Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech into a set of images, one first needs to break down that speech into a few main themes or concepts. These might include the following ideas:

  • all people are equal,
  • skin color is no way to judge a person,
  • and assessing character is the proper way to judge a person.

But how might a student portray those main ideas through visuals? Any number of possibilities present themselves to answer that question. A common thread which links the options lies in attempting to translate concepts like equality and character into distinct symbols. You might attempt to express equality in image by presenting a diverse group of people standing on the same ground as to highlight the similarity and parity of those people.

Though remediation is a subjective distillation and representation of a particular set of ideas expressed in the original text, in order to effectively use symbols, a knowledge of some basic symbols and what those symbols often represent may be useful. Water, the color red, and the sun all have distinct and common meanings: rebirth, anger, and life, respectively. You should also consider what connotations certain colors have on your audience—colors connote different things to different cultures, for example. You should avoid creating symbols which need extensive or excessive explanation—an excellent visual remediation should clearly and interestingly capture the essential themes or ideas of the original text.

Rhetorical stance is not only tied to the creation of text. The creation of visuals (whether a single image or a video, or a combination of text and image) is governed by many of the same rhetorical considerations as the construction of text—a knowledge of target audience, the purpose behind these visuals, the tone or feel of the images—and you should constantly keep this in mind when constructing a text-to-visual remediation.

Remember, your remediation should be an expression of your feelings about a particular text, but it should be rooted in an understanding of the original text, including the historical context out of which it came, and an application of rhetorical strategies—knowledge that that you should be able to eloquently defend in a reflection piece on the remediation.

Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham


Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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